Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 18, 8:47 a.m.

This is an opportunity for your church to locally provide something vitally important to your community!

Local governments know that ensuring the public can get vaccinated quickly and effectively will be a whole-of-society effort — including by faith-based organizations and houses of worship.

To that end, the Baptist Resource Network is encouraging local churches to be ready to respond, and this is how you can do that.

How can volunteer and faith-based organizations support vaccination distribution efforts?

Needs at vaccination centers may include:

  • Health professionals – Personnel to administer the vaccine
  • Administrative support – Volunteers to perform data input and other clerical tasks
  • Facilities – Vaccination facilities
  • Logistics – Traffic support at vaccination sites; assistance for individuals with access and functional needs

Volunteer and faith-based organizations may also be able to provide wraparound services for vaccination centers, such as:

  • Meals for workers and volunteers
  • Transportation for elderly/seniors to vaccination sites
  • Emotional and spiritual care, particularly during the recipients’ observation time
  • Vaccination messaging to congregations and community

In the meantime, here are specific ways you can prepare your church volunteers and otherwise assist:

South Jersey/Philadelphia:

  • If you are in the South Jersey/Philly region, promote preparedness by encouraging interested church members to secure their background checks immediately through the process established by your church. Offer transportation services to your community to vaccination sites. Keep close to the news about opportunities for volunteers with background checks (the term “vetted” may be used).
  • In South Jersey, there may be opportunities for medical volunteers if you can give shots. Go to helpnjnow.org to sign up with the Medical Reserve Corps and make your availability known.
  • The latest news from Philadelphia is that non-medical volunteers are needed immediately and over the next weeks. The link for sign-up is here: Serve Presents Volunteer Match. The plan for the near future includes multiple sites in Philly.

Rest of Pennsylvania:

  • For the rest of Pennsylvania, promote preparedness by encouraging congregants to get their background checks immediately.
  • Appoint a volunteer coordinator for your church who will also act as the point of contact for the local authorities. There may be a great need for non-medical volunteers to help with emotional/spiritual care, special needs, transportation, registration, traffic control, etc.
  • BE PRO-ACTIVE!!! Contact your county health department or emergency management coordinator to discover what is being planned and how congregations can help. Ask this to-the-point question, “Do you need volunteers to staff vaccination sites?” Communicate very clearly that your church wants to be involved and will do what you can to help AND that your church is related to the network of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR). If you have trained SBDR volunteers in your congregation, tell them that, too! Tell them that all volunteers from your church will be vetted (background checks are clear, current and on file). Ask about other criteria for volunteers (i.e., insurance). Follow up immediately with the information you receive to establish yourself as a dependable partner in your community’s efforts.
  • In an increasing number of counties, hospital systems and pharmacy chains (rather than the counties) are competing to provide as many vaccinations as possible. Check there, also, for volunteer opportunities.

Background Check Resources:

As you can imagine, this is an emerging opportunity, which may go through several adjustments and additional locations, so please stay tuned for ongoing information.

If your church is engaging, please let BRN know by emailing the Helpdesk so we can pray for you. Please let us know if you need other support. We’d also love to highlight your efforts in upcoming BRN United stories. Upload photos and descriptions to www.brnunited.org/news-tips.